Two in five uncomfortable speaking to mortgage lender or landlord about budget pressures

25th September 2023

Housing costs are a source of concern to many, yet around two in five people would potentially feel reluctant to discuss their budget pressures with their landlord or mortgage lender, according to new research in a new poll of adults, conducted by YouGov on behalf of StepChange Debt Charity.

The research found that two fifths (39%) of people who rent or have a mortgage are uncomfortable when it comes to seeking advice and support with their finances from their lender or landlord, or discussing their budget pressures. This proportion is markedly higher for those in the private rented sector (PRS) compared to those with a mortgage.

The research found that of those who rent or have a mortgage, 39% would be very uncomfortable or somewhat uncomfortable speaking to their lender or landlord about budget pressures.

For mortgage holders, the proportion is just under a third (30%) and for renters in the private rented sector it rises to over half (55%), whilst almost one fifth (18%) of people who have a mortgage or rent were unsure of who they would be most likely to speak to if they had financial issues, with the number rising to 25% for private renters. For mortgage holders, 1 in 10 (11%) were unsure of who to speak to for help.

With the crisis in housing affordability worsening due to high inflation and the steep rise in interest rates, impacting both tenants and mortgage holders, the financial pressures of the past 18 months have led to StepChange seeing an 18% year-on-year rise in client volumes, a trend which is similarly echoed across the debt advice sector.

For those struggling with mortgage payments and social rent, lenders and social landlords have a regulatory responsibility to treat customers and tenants fairly and must follow a series of steps to prevent someone in financial difficulty from losing their home. However, tenants in the private rented sector (PRS) are not afforded the same protections.

Free debt advice charities like StepChange can help people who have fallen behind or are worried about how they will pay their rent or mortgage. The charity recently launched a new homeowner hub providing a one-stop-shop for those mortgage holders who are seeking advice and guidance in the face of financial hardship. For private and social renters, StepChange’s website has lots of information about support which is out there from partner organisations such as Shelter.

Vikki Brownridge, CEO of StepChange Debt Charity, said “We know from our experiences with clients that it can take someone a long time to open up and seek help if they’re struggling with their finances, and it can be especially daunting to discuss debt problems with the people you owe money to. However, lenders and social landlords are required to support their customers who are facing financial hardship, which is especially vital during the ongoing cost of living crisis.”